Foresighted, impulsive and eloquent, Rishi Das has a profound insight into the working of today’s fast evolving businesses. He believes in exceeding all expectations. His innate talent, coupled with sharp business acumen, has helped his Group – CareerNet,scale newer heights of success.
More than that, he is high-spirited and fun-loving and always ready for life’s new challenges. In an interview with CommonFloor.com, Rishi Das, CEO, CareerNet, talks about the ‘other side’ of himself, his interests and hobbies and his family.
1) To start with, can you brief us on your life’s journey so far?
I was born and brought up in Lucknow and moved on to do my Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from IIT Roorkee. My childhood is full of memories. Some were good while some were bad but I would classify most of them as good. Just as everyone would aspire, I got a job at Tata Infotech through campus placement where I worked briefly for about a year. But, I was certain that this is not where I belonged.
From as early as Grade 10, I had aspired to become an entrepreneur. And the time had come to realize my dream. In late 1999, along with my brother, I co-founded CareerNet. There has been no stopping since then. My aspiration, over a period of time, became more of a passion for me which can be visible through my work for over two decades now.
2) Which incident, in particular, has changed your perception of life as a whole?
I can’t really recall any one specific incident that has changed my perception of life. Instead, there have been several incidents, be it success or failure, in my journey that have shaped me into what I am today. My entrepreneurial skills were always fetched by the thought that I wanted to pave the way for others rather than going the way where others went. This was a clear thought.
But things were not smooth initially. During the mid nineties, entrepreneurship in India was considered a taboo. Nevertheless, my desire was intense and my professors at Roorkee were very instrumental in supporting my dream. However, things have changed today. Being an entrepreneur is not only a socially accepted norm but, in a way, it is considered very fashionable. Unlike earlier, it is much easy to get funding today and start companies. If you ask me, a lot of things are destined.
3) How do you ensure a perfect work-life balance in today’s hectic schedule?
Maintaining a perfect work-life balance is not really difficult if you truly want to. After work, I love to spend quality time with my family which includes my parents, my wife and my two children – daughter and son. On a daily routine, I always read books to my children before putting them to bed. I also make it a point to take a short half-hour walk with my wife post dinner. The kids are mostly asleep by this time and it is a good time to share our experiences of the day.
My wife is also an entrepreneur by profession and hence, we have similar interests. For her also, entrepreneurship over a period of time has become a passion. During weekends, I assist my children with their homework, play various games with them or go out for a drive or dinner with my entire family. The idea is to spend good quality time with them.
4) What are your personal interests and hobbies?
As of today, my biggest interest lies in entrepreneurship. It’s become a passion for me. I enjoy interacting with a lot of entrepreneurs who have recently started their ventures. Lately, I have also picked up reading by choice which includes mostly business and management books.
Earlier, my reading was limited to periodicals like magazines or journals.But in the last two to three years, ever since my business expanded, I have felt the need to understand various phenomenons happening in several businesses. Moreover, I like travelling to various places in India and abroad and meeting a cross-section of people, understanding their culture and history.
5) How do you usually de-stress or unwind yourself after a long, hectic day at work?
The two most important stress busters for both my body and mind include my work-out sessions in the morning and my reading in the night. I try to follow an hour-long fitness regime in the morning which includes walking on the treadmill, stretching and a little yoga. I try to follow this routine for about 4-5 days in a week. To relax my mind, I try to read at least for an hour at night before sleeping. I think, as you read you get answers to a lot of questions that are going on in your mind. Reading makes you much more mature and helps in solving day-to-day queries.
In fact, I have a fairly large bedroom with a small reading area in the corner. It is here that I mostly spend my time in the house.
6) Which are your favourite holiday destinations within India and abroad?
Goa is my all-time favourite holiday destination in India. We go there every year and stay at the Leela. Often we travel with my brother’s family that also happens to reside in the same apartment as mine – Sobha Jasmine on Outer-Ring Road. We also happen to travel a lot to Coorg and to Nilgiris whenever we get the time or mostly over long weekends.
Since my children are small I have not travelled extensively to Europe or North America. I have predominantly travelled in Asia-Pacific. Singapore is my favourite destination here and, if at all, I have to settle anywhere outside India this city would be my preferred choice. This is mainly because it provides the cultural value system at par with our Indian values. At the same time it gives the comfort and hygiene required of any developed countries. Moreover, I also like Maldives even though it is not very child-friendly.
7) Besides travelling, what are your other favourite pastimes?
Being a migrant to Bangalore, my social circle is not very large here. Moreover, other than meeting entrepreneurs my friend circle is not very large. I am more or less an introvert on this aspect. I also indulge into various sports activities with my children which includes table tennis, badminton, cycling with kids and basket ball. We often dine out too be it Chinese food or Italian, depending on my kids moods.
8) What features in an apartment/community do you consider to be most important?
I feel, the most important features are the recreational facilities in any complex. These should be there for all age groups – from children to adults like me or even for seniors like my parents. Swimming and Tennis are the two sports that adults also enjoy a lot. While I don’t really go looking for a large club house but certainly the basics should be available. And above all hygiene matters a lot for me.
Since reading is an essential part of my daily routine I would prefer a good reading area in the house. That’s the reason why in my new villa at Adarsh Palm Retreat, where I will be moving in soon, my bedroom size is fairly large. It also comprises of a small reading area coupled with an area for work, a small library and also a small kitchenette where I can have my green tea especially at night.The future, I feel, lies in integrated townships where one gets everything under one roof be it residential, commercial or even little retail.
9) Are you brand-conscious?
I am not a very brand conscious person as per say. But my wife surely is. I believe in value-for-money brands. I am not an ardent fan of big brands like Louis Vuitton or others and neither do I drive swanky cars. I firmly believe in brands that give me value-for money and the longevity. I carry a simple blackberry mobile rather than some swanky phone.
10) What is your mantra for success?
Humility, passion, perseverance and the willingness to take risks are my four mantras for success. More than the ability to take risk I believe in the willingness to take risk.